A Heavy Burden


A Heavy Burden

What is it you carry

Inside that clay pot on your shoulder?

Is it filled with water

For your wife and children to drink?


Or do you carry the heavy burden

Of the displaced,

The weight of memories

From a flooded village

You left behind?


You walk and you walk and you walk

With that weight on your shoulder

As if you were Atlas

Carrying the earth on your back up a hill.

charcoal image of man with clay pot on shoulder


¿Qué es lo que cargas

En esa cazuela de barro sobre tus hombros?

¿Está llena de agua

Para que beban tu esposa e hijos?


¿O acaso cargas el peso

De los desplazados,

El peso de los recuerdos

De un pueblo inundado

Que dejaste atrás?


Caminas y caminas y caminas

Con ese peso sobre tus hombros

Como si fueras Atlas

Cargando al mundo sobre tu espalda

subiendo el cerro.


This drawing and poem are excerpted from Borderlines: Drawing of Border Lives (Wings Press), a collection of profiles in poetry and charcoal of people living and working along the border. The poem is by Steven P. Schneider, a professor of English at the University of Texas-Pan American in McAllen.  The drawing is by his wife Reefka Schneider, an artist in McAllen.